Categorized | Editorials

A Nest of Contradictions

Things are tough not only for the Government of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, but also for most so-called ‘ordinary’ Bahamians.
This is surely part and parcel of developments in the past five years that have struck the Bahamian people so very hard. Indeed, we now reel not only at the hammer blows inflicted by a world-economy over which they have little to no real control, but also cower under the shadow of impending blows as those who govern do their level-best to cope with this nation’s burgeoning debt.

In the meantime, the people demand transparency, accountability and responsibility from all who lead and all who would lead. But above all else, the Bahamian people demand action, results and transparency from those elected to serve them. In addition, they are now demanding the same from all those nameless, faceless bureaucrats who work with, for and under the command of politicians.

It is this mighty phalanx that now [more than ever before] which truly rules. There is no doubting that politicians do well what politicians do best; that is to say, they arrive, they debate issues, they pass laws – and when their time comes, they leave. Bureaucrats live in and occupy another niche in the governmental apparatus. Those men and women who occupy perches in this or that public office stay put.

As they dig in things sometimes go from bad to worse.

Interestingly enough, when things sour, politicians get the blame and just as often, they are quite often sent packing. We make this point as we reflect not only on the high and rising costs associated with running and manning the public administration, but also as we make the point that this sector is need of major reform. Even when a government bureau is doing what it is supposed to be doing – their work finds itself vitiated by the fact that most of the funds budgeted to them go for the payment of personal emoluments.

Sadly, much of this money received is never bench-marked against performance; thus the persistent charge that the public service is manned by men and women who are being feather-bedded. Matters are made even worse when comparisons are made between what managers and others such do in the private sector as opposed to the mediocrity that seems par for the course in this nation’s bloated public service bureaucracy.

Things are made infinitely worse when bloat, rot and corruption infect and infest the ranks of the armed forces and that raft of other people in the employ of the state. Compounding the matter at hand, mighty bureaucratic bourgeoisie has become not only expert at shoring up its own interests, but they have become exceptionally expert in coddling up to “The Minister” regardless of the party that provided him the perch.

As one permanent secretary sagely reminded us some time ago: “…Ministers come and go, I remain…” The same reality applies to most of his underlings. These people have it made in the shade. They very often make good money for doing the least they could while on the job.

Clearly, many of these people sometimes find themselves making even more money as they search for and find that they can collect corruption rents for the work they do; thus a conclusion which tells us that, there are thousands of Bahamians who – even as they work for government – have found ways of extracting their pound of flesh from the public at large.

This rampant corruption is itself indicative of a culture where practically all who serve seem to be caught up in some scam or racket. This, is the nub of one of this nation’s most serious failings; this being that the country itself is being run –for the most part – by that phalanx of public sector managers who get first preference at the best of the cookies in the nation’s proverbial cookie jar.

Whether we reference some of the shenanigans allegedly taking place at the National Insurance Board or some of those taking place at the Bahamas Electricity Corporation or for that matter in any other government-run entity or office – each and every one is lorded over by bureaucrats who are answerable to no-one for either what they do or what they refuse to do. Today, we live mired in a nest of contradictions and political conundrums.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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